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Making Dallas Even Better

Leading Off (7/21/14)

Dallas Bike Czar Originally Moved to Dallas to Work for TxDOT. Ashley Haire calls it the “ultimate irony” in this Dallas Morning News piece. The 36-year-old engineer relocated from Portland to work as a project manager on the reconstruction of I-30 and I-35E. Now, with her new position that she started in May, she’s planning new bike lanes, is pro bike-sharing programs, and supports the City Council’s decision repealing the helmet requirement. More biking news: Dallas may start counting the number of bikers on the streets with the help of the North Central Texas Council of Governments. And Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price hopped on her bike to lead the Tour de Fort Worth, an event the 64-year-old mayor created three years ago.

What’s Going on With these Civilian Police Officers? Ten are headed to the jail to wait with suspects before they’re booked. This is part of Chief David Brown’s effort to save money by hiring fewer officers in advance of a projected $14 million budget shortfall. But the president of the Dallas Fraternal Order of Police, Richard Todd, is saying this is really just a swap of manpower. Now the clerical work they were doing back at police headquarters, for instance, will have to be done by someone else. Also on the civilian public safety front, Steve Blow offers this take on the new inductees into the reserve police force.

Flower Mound Teen Dies in Go-Kart Accident. 14-year-old Kierstin Eaddy was participating in a racing event outside Texas Motor Speedway Sunday when her kart failed to stop after crossing the finish line. She crashed through a fence, and her helmet came off. Eaddy was airlifted to Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital, where she was later pronounced dead. An investigation is underway.

Rangers 20 Games Below .500. The Rangers lost 9-6 to the Toronto Blue Jays Sunday, dropping the struggling team to 20 below .500 for the first time since 2003. It’s only the sixth time in the history of the team that they’ve fallen 20 below in the first 100 games. Sunday’s game was No. 98. Next up: Yankees. Choice quote: “Texas has been really, really bad.”

Leading Off (7/7/14)

Dallas City Council Approved $2 Million for Floundering Bexar Street Project, Without Much Questioning. Part of a $29 million revitalization effort for the southern Dallas street sits Hailu Ejigu’s two-story, mixed-use building. The story goes something like this. An original cost of $700,000 doubles to $1.3 million when Ejigu changes the scope of the project, setting out to construct a building nearly twice the size. The city plays along, beginning the pattern of cutting him checks. By the end, that number reaches $2 million. Along the way, Ejigu is expected to produce some 75 percent of financing through equity of his own and a bank loan. When the loan doesn’t come through, he goes back to the city, which produces a loan. The city also reimburses Ejigu for all kinds of expenses, lawyer fees and the like. A dollar store opens in the building but is unsuccessful. Tenants, both residential and commercial, are hard to come by. Oh, and a second phase of the project remains. For the full story, read the Dallas Morning News’ two-part series here and here.

Grand Prairie Coming Around to Housing Undocumented Children. County Judge Clay Jenkins met with Grand Prairie city leaders Sunday after they voiced concerns about the former Lamar Alternative Education Center being considered as a housing option for some of the 2,000 children that have crossed into Texas from Mexico alone. D.A. Hulcy Middle School and a Parkland Memorial Hospital warehouse are also being considered. Grand Prairie may be more “at ease” with the idea, but strong opposition remains.

Chris Kyle Defamation Trial Starts Tomorrow. As we’ve reported before, former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura has been suing the Navy sniper since 2012 for defamation over an account in Kyle’s autobiography detailing a fight with a guy named “Scruff Face.” That guy was Ventura, and Ventura says the fight never happened. As a result of the book, Ventura says job offers stopped coming in. Kyle was killed in 2013. His widow, Tara Kyle, is the defendant in the suit, which is finally headed to court. For more on the legacy of Chris Kyle, read Michael J. Mooney’s story here.

Columbus Short Arrested in Dallas. So I’ve never seen Scandal, and I don’t know who Short is, but apparently he was on this television show. And apparently he’s also having a rough go of it these days. The actor was arrested around 2 a.m. Saturday at the Katy Trail Ice House for public intoxication. In March, he was accused of punching someone at a West Los Angeles restaurant, and in April, his wife said Short threatened to kill her. No word on why Short was in Dallas and why no one is mentioning that he also choreographed a Britney Spears tour.

Devin Harris Close to Signing 3-Year Contract with Mavericks. Sure, he sat much of last year with a toe injury, but he showed up in the playoffs, and he’s a Wisconsin Badger, and I have an embarrassing college picture with him in a box somewhere. Anyway, I’m totally on board with this.

Inside the July Issue of D Magazine

In recent months, we’ve devoted considerable time and energy to urban development and downtown Dallas. As I’ve mentioned before, the Interstate 345 debate has essentially turned into an inspiring and, at times, infuriating discussion about the future of our city. A conversation I’m thrilled to be a part of. But perhaps, in all of this, the suburbs have been feeling a touch neglected. This month, we’ve started making up for it.

For starters, when it came time to prepare for our “Best Suburbs” package, we as a staff ventured out of our downtown abode. Bradford Pearson hiked Cedar Hill’s trails, Tim Rogers received a memorable haircut in Rockwall, Zac Crain logged time in Plano, Peter Simek perused Waxahachie’s Webb Gallery, Liz Johnstone chatted up Carrollton’s mayor, and so on. I don’t know if any of these city dwellers would openly admit it, but I think we all enjoyed our suburban jaunts.

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Leading Off (6/23/14)

Cyclist Still Missing at Flower Mound Park. Wesley Hixson was biking with three friends Saturday morning when he crashed and split off from the group shortly thereafter. He hasn’t been seen since. Search parties took to the 1,500 acres of Murrell Park Sunday. Nearly 23 miles of trails are in the area.

Dallas Veterans Hospital Part of the National Problem of Long Delays. An audit released this month shows that the Dallas VA hospital is not only part of the national problem of lengthy delays and wait lists, but it has also been home to these delays and a host of other problems for at least 10 years. The Dallas hospital, for example, has the 10th-longest wait list in the country for new patients seeking mental health care, which comes to about 50 days. The hospital has said it’s making changes to improve the delays.

Local Executives Still Rich, Getting Richer. Executive compensation packages in DFW climbed 20 percent in 2013, from $2.85 million in 2012 to $3.4 million in 2013, according to a new report from the Dallas Morning News. Much of that gain can be attributed to stock awards, which rose 12 percent. Even with the hikes, DFW executives remain below the median pay package as reported in the Standard & Poor’s 500 index. That comes to $10.5 million.

Caption This: Mayor Rawlings Loves Fist Pumping

The U.S. Conference of Mayors started today with breakfast and jazzercise on the new Continental Avenue Bridge park. Because what all of these mayors surely wanted to see straightaway was everyone in workout clothes. Welcome to Dallas! Anyway, Tim and Zac, who are not mayors, are off judging essays and manuscripts for the Mayborn Conference today. If they were here, however, there would undoubtedly be discussion of this wonderful photo of Mayor Mike Rawlings fist pumping. “Let’s Get it Started” by the Black Eyed Peas was played at some point, so I’m just going to assume it happened then. Because I don’t get the joy (?) of hearing from Tim and Zac, I’ll open it up to you, dear readers. Caption suggestions? Or better yet, thought-bubble suggestions?

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4,000 Untested Rape Kits Remain in Dallas

More than 100,000 untested rape kits sit in evidence across the country, but Congress may be ready to approve a $41 million aid package to help address the issue. Recent discoveries of additional untested kits, including some 4,000 in Dallas, have renewed pressure from advocacy groups and returned focus to the issue. Back in 2011, the Texas Tribune reported that as many as 21,000 rape kits were backlogged in Dallas.

When New York tested its 17,000-kit backlog, the arrest rate for sexual assaults climbed to 70 percent from 40 percent. In Detroit, 127 potential serial rapists were identified when it tested 1,600 kits. And closer to home in Houston, 5,000 of a recently uncovered 6,600 kits were processed by Virginia-based Bode Technology. Let’s hope Dallas can achieve similar results.

Leading Off (6/16/14)

Future Dallas: Making Strides, Facing Challenges. If you opened the plastic bag full of ads in Sunday’s Dallas Morning News, you found the special report. If not, it’s here, examining the state of Dallas 10 years after it published its “Tipping Point” report. The results then were that Dallas ranked poorly in crime, education, and economic growth. Ten years later, the DMN reports, we’ve improved in one area–public safety.

Where’s the Perot Museum’s Climate Change Exhibit? Well whoops. The nature and science museum’s VP of programs is saying that a 4-by-2.5-foot panel addressing the subject was lost before the museum opened. Now, more than a year later, they’re ordering a temporary panel be hung in the earth sciences hall while they wait for the permanent piece to arrive. Turns out they didn’t realize the panel was missing until reporters started poking around. Hmm.

Josh Brent Released From Jail. The former Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle served time for intoxication manslaughter following the car crash that killed his friend and teammate Jerry Brown. No word on whether he’ll try to be reinstated in the NFL.

Patient Abuse Reported at Parkland. In March, a psychiatric patient spat at nurses and was subsequently restrained and gagged with a toilet paper roll. It took more than three weeks for the hospital to report the incident. One of the nurses involved was also involved in a 2011 incident in which a psychiatric patient was restrained and died.

Leading Off (6/9/14)

DISD Recruit’s Mother Pointing Fingers at the District Post Death. Tammy Simpson knew it was illegal when DISD recruited her son, then living at the Dallas County Youth Village, to play basketball at Wilmer-Hutchins High School. But she thought the move would be the best thing for him. She says DISD forged residency papers, and her son, Troy Causey, hit the court. He died March 24 as a result of injuries sustained in a fight. Fifteen DISD employees, including coaches, administrators, and staff were fired Friday.

STARR Results Terrible Despite Success Initiative. In 2009, the Student Success Initiative was expanded to cover all third through eighth grade students who were identified as at risk of failing the state exams. Three years later, the Dallas Morning News is reporting that results show little improvement with widening gaps for some of the state’s lowest-performing students overall.

A New Orleans-Style Funeral For a Not-Officially-Dead-Yet Tollway. Some 50 residents and business owners in Bishop Arts gathered Friday to bid adieu to the Trinity Tollway project. They, as many have before, pointed out funding obstacles, environmental harm, and the overall impracticality of the project.

Ted Cruz Still a GOP Rockstar. He was quite the hit at the Texas Republican Convention over the weekend in Fort Worth.

Leading Off (6/2/14)

Trinity Tollway Loses Another Supporter. This time it’s Larry Good.

Design District Up for Sale. Well a portion of it. Lionstone Group scooped up some 30 acres in 2007. Now, they’re putting their remaining properties on the market, the majority of which fall on Oak Lawn Avenue and Hi Line Drive.

Woman Arrested for Allegedly Shooting Dog. I mean, really? A bus of school children came across the bloodied dog and her 10 pups on the side of the road. What a disaster.

Jesus Christ Superstar Canceled. You mean to tell me that Johnny Rotten couldn’t sell tickets? Please.

Leading Off (5/12/14)

Tollway Offenders, NTTA is Coming for You. I have $8 in unpaid tolls, which I’m going to pay here in a second. Either way, that doesn’t put me on the list of some 30,000 serial offenders, people who’ve racked up at least 100 unpaid tolls. First of all, wow. Secondly, expect to hear from the NTTA shortly. Then, if they catch you on one of their 145 miles of highways, expect to have your registration blocked or car impounded.

Are Attitudes Changing Toward Football in Texas? A bit, says the New York Times, which highlights Marshall’s decision, in particular, to turn tackle football in the seventh grade to flag football. Research and high-profile brain-injury cases, such as Tony Dorsett’s, are contributing to the change.

Man Drops Through Ceiling of Fort Worth Bar. It’s unclear why Lacey Boyd Gregg had been hiding from police for hours. It’s also unclear how he got into the ceiling of Oscar’s Pub. But around 10 p.m. Saturday night, the ceiling gave, and he fell through. Gregg was kept in the kitchen until police arrived.

More Flood Warnings for Today. We’re under a flash-flood watch from 4 p.m. today until 5 a.m. tomorrow. Two to three inches of rain are expected, and just in time for evening rush hour.


Leading Off (5/5/14)

Mavs Fall to Spurs in Game 7. Well crud. Spurs 119, Mavs 96. But heck of a ride, right?

Hundreds Shave Heads During Cancer Fundraiser. Boston-based charity One Mission visited AT&T Stadium Sunday for the first-annual Kids Cancer Buzz Off, shaving some 211 heads and raising $130,000. In the charity’s first four years of existence, it’s raised more than $2 million for families and children battling pediatric cancer. Tip: grab a tissue before watching this video of Sunday’s event.

Fires Hit Area Over the Weekend. As Nancy Nichols reported Sunday, a small fire atop the roof of Nick and Sam’s caused the restaurant to temporarily close. A house fire in Southeast Dallas Saturday night left a firefighter injured with burns over 35 to 40 percent of his body. In Tarrant County, twelve units at The Legacy apartment complex were damaged in a two-alarm fire, displacing dozens of residents. A man died Saturday night in a house fire in West Dallas, and in Arlington, a man was rescued from his one-bedroom apartment during a blaze.

More Plans Emerge for La Bajada Community Farm. Much of this report is unclear, such as when the meeting took place, what the plans are for securing the $1.5 million they say it will take to build and run the farm for two years, and what the deal is with the nonprofit, but the University of Texas at Arlington graduate students have presented their ideas for the community farm. And many are optimistic that the community support is there. It sounds pretty similar to what Farraz Khan reported in February. Still a cool idea, still kind of up in the air.

Why I Picked a Fight With the DMN’s Mark Lamster

The first time I met the highly regarded and very new Dallas Morning News architecture critic Mark Lamster, I picked a fight. I’m not sure why, but there I was, debating the merits of living downtown, which he has rather kindly recapped in this piece about why he chooses to live downtown. I’m the steely-eyed magazine editor. I’ve been called worse. When I moved to Dallas this past summer, as is probably clear, I did not choose to live downtown. I had my fill after logging four weeks at the Magnolia Hotel, which was perfectly nice, by the way. But a permanent place down here? Not interested. So I set up shop in East Dallas for various reasons, the main one being that I had one day to find a place because of this. It’s a nice apartment, perfectly enjoyable. But I’ll move when the lease is up. You know what’s less than stellar about Fakewood, where I reside? How darn long it takes to drive downtown, where my office resides. Lamster, you’ve got me there. But guess where I’m still not moving? Downtown. These are my reasons.

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Leading Off (4/23/14)

Preliminary Findings Show a Lack of Oversight Contributed to the West Explosion. Five days after the one-year anniversary of the fertilizer plant explosion, the Chemical Safety Board released the initial findings of its investigation, stressing that the ammonium nitrate wasn’t handled properly and that this was a “preventable accident.” The federal agency has been criticized in the past for moving too slowly, and West Mayor Tommy Muska voiced disappointment in how long it’s taken to get “preliminary” results. The investigation is ongoing.

DISD’s School for the Talented and Gifted Ranked Best in the Country. That’s according to U.S. News and World Report’s latest ranking of the best high schools in the nation. At the Dallas magnet school, students must take 11 AP classes to graduate, and 100 percent of those graduates are ready for college.

Arlington Council: Leave Your Guns at Home (or in the Car). The council approved an ordinance Tuesday that bans weapons and “simulated weapons” in City Hall. Concealed handguns were already prohibited, but the new ordinance extends the ban to the antique black-power pistols, replica pistols, and long-barreled guns that can be openly carried in Texas.

Dallas Charter Review Commission in Favor of Raises for Mayor, Council Members. Eric Celeste recommended an even greater increase in the April issue of D Magazine, but the commission voted on a 20 percent pay hike for the mayor Tuesday night and a 32 percent increase for council members. That would take salaries to $71,864 and $49,530 respectively. A month remains before final recommendations must be submitted.

Plus, Holy Road Rage. Be careful out there.

Leading Off (4/7/14)

TxDOT Land Purchases Under Federal Investigation. This is what we know: In 2009, businessmen Kevin Bollman and Wade Blackburn started snatching up land the state would eventually need to widen I-35E in Denton County and make repairs in Dallas. They say they used public records in deciding where to buy. By 2011, the state was purchasing large swaths of the land, costing taxpayers millions. Now, the whole ordeal is under investigation.

Final Four Festivities Wrap Tonight. It’s been one heck of a weekend, no? The March Madness Music Festival finished off its three days of fun last night with a three-hour Bruce Springsteen show. The cold and rain kept the space from filling to capacity, but those who made it out were certainly rewarded. Tonight, Connecticut faces Kentucky (sigh) in the National Championship Game. And then, we can all set our sights on whether DFW will be home to the Final Four again in 2017.

Rain Pushes Duck Commander 500 to Today. For hours, attempts were made to get the track ready for the race, but it just wasn’t possible. The race is now scheduled for 11 a.m. today at the Texas Motor Speedway.

Country Music Awards Headed Here in 2015. In more big event news, Jerry Jones is bringing the awards show to AT&T Stadium next April. He was on hand for the announcement last night in Las Vegas.

I-345 Panel Discussion Set for Thursday

Now First United Methodist Church is getting in on the act. On Thursday, Patrick Kennedy from A New Dallas will lead a panel discussion on “bringing investment to downtown and the surrounding disadvantaged areas.” Translation: tearing down I-345. Other panelists include the Dallas Morning News‘ architecture critic Mark Lamster, CitySquare’s Larry James and Gerald Britt, and BC Workshop’s Mark Lea. The “Let’s Do Lunch!” event runs from 11:30-1. Pompeii and Cup Cakin’ Machine food trucks will be on site, and the conversation will take place in the Fiedler Atrium.

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